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.*                                                                                                             B. POLEVOI
It must have been in those far-off days that I was first
drawn to journalism, which I thought was extremely
exciting, very important and, as it seemed to me then,
a little mysterious.
My first item was printed in Tverskaya Pravda when I
was in the 6th form. As I remember it now, it consisted
of seven lines and was about the visit S. D. Drozhzhin,
the well-known peasant-poet, paid to our school. It was
given an inconspicuous place on the back page and did
not even carry a by-line. But I knew who wrote it and
kept that issue of the newspaper until it virtually fell
apart in my pocket. After that I began to write regularly
for Tverskaya Pravda, and when they came to know me
better I began to get assignments for features and sketches
about the life of the town.
After finishing school I went to the Industrial College,
where I studied chemistry and made quantitative and
qualitative analyses. But at the bottom of my heart I was
already yearning for the editorial offices with their smell
of printer's ink, and during commercial classes I secretly
wrote a sketch or a feature on a theme that had nothing
to do with what the teacher was saying. In that way I
gradually became associated with the glorious profession
of a journalist, which to this day I regard as the most
exciting and most fascinating of all literary specialities.
Work in newspapers taught me to observe life with the
closest attention, to try and understand the things that
were going on around me, and to write only when I had
a good grasp of the subject.
My first book of feature articles was published in 1927.
Friends from Srnena, a Komsomol newspaper I was con-
tributing to at the time, sent it to Maxim Gorky in
Sorrento without my knowledge.
When I learned about it, I was horrified. I thought
it was sacrilege to make a great writer read my immature
and, as I was already quite aware, mediocre work. All
the greater, therefore, was my surprise when I received
a bulky packet bearing foreign stamps and my name and
address written in a large and clear hand.
On six pages of foolscap Gorky reviewed my immature
composition with the greatest attention and indulgence,
advised that I should work hard to improve, and learn